Thursday, December 14, 2023

DEI Bites the Dust in Another Red State

By Leah Barkoukis |

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) has taken aim at Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion spending in higher education and state agencies, signing an executive order Wednesday that protects taxpayers from funding such programs.

“In Oklahoma, we’re going to encourage equal opportunity, rather than promising equal outcomes,” Stitt said in a statement. “Encouraging our workforce, economy, and education systems to flourish means shifting focus away from exclusivity and discrimination, and toward opportunity and merit. We’re taking politics out of education and focusing on preparing students for the workforce.”

State agencies and higher education institutions must review all DEI posts, activities, and programs to eliminate, and dismiss nonessential personnel.  

Specifically, state funds cannot be used for programs or positions that “grant preferential treatment based on one person’s particular race, color, sex, ethnicity, or national origin over another’s.” 

No one can be compelled to participate in any programs that do so, nor can they be required to sign or agree to any discriminatory “loyalty oath.” Individuals also cannot be forced to state their pronouns. 

"As a nation, we strive for equality of opportunity to give every young person a chance at achieving their American Dream," said Patrice Onwuka, director of Independent Women’s Forum’s Center for Economic Opportunity. "Race, ethnicity, gender, and heritage should not be used to discriminate against any person. Yet, discriminatory DEI programming has done damage on college campuses—fomenting division between students, eroding free speech rights, threatening academic freedom, and bloating school bureaucracies, which in turn drives up tuition costs. Furthermore, these efforts do not prepare young women and men for the diverse workforce that values aptitude, grit, and skill, not a sense of entitlement driven by victimhood. We applaud Governor Stitt and the state for taking leadership on removing discriminatory and divisive race-based programming and staffing from Oklahoma colleges and universities. Every student deserves a campus free from discrimination. Thankfully, legal protections already outlaw race-and sex-based discrimination, but this executive order guards against efforts to bypass those protections."